Stocks are sliding more aggressively today. Wall Street and the media always have a need to assign a reason when stocks move lower. There have been plenty of negatives and uncertainties over the past seven months — none of which put a dent in a very strong opening half for stocks.
But markets don’t go straight up. Trends have retracements. Bull markets have corrections. And despite what many people think, you don’t need a specific event to turn markets. Price can many times be the catalyst.
If we look across markets, it’s safe to say it doesn’t look like a market that is pricing in nuclear war. Gold is higher, but still under the highs of a month ago. The 10 year yield is 2.21%. Two weeks ago, it was 2.22%. That doesn’t look like global capital is fleeing all parts of the world to find the safest parking place.
Now, on the topic of North Korea, the media has found a new topic to obsess about– and to obsessively denounce the administration’s approach. With that, let’s take a look at the Trump geopolitical strategy of calling a spade a spade.
As we know, Mexico was the target heading into the election. Trump’s tough talk against illegal immigration and drug trafficking drew plenty of scrutiny. People feared the protectionist threats, especially the potential of alienating the U.S. from its third biggest trading partner. We’re still trading with Mexico. And the U.S. is doing better. So is Mexico. Mexican stocks are up 11% this year. The Mexican currency is up 13% this year.
China has been a target for Trump. He’s been tough on China’s currency manipulation and, hence, the lopsided trade that contributed heavily to the credit crisis. Despite all of the predictions, a trade war hasn’t erupted. In fact, China has appreciated its currency by 5% this year. That’s a huge signal of compliance. That’s among the fastest pace of currency appreciation since they abandoned the peg against the dollar more than 12 years ago (which was China’s concession to threats of a 30% trade tariff that was threatened by two senators, Schumer and Graham, back in 2005). And even in the face of a stronger currency (which drags on exports, a key driver of the economy), stocks are up 5% in China through the first seven months of the year.
Bottom line: It’s fair to say, the tough talk has been working. There has been compromise and compliance. So now Trump has stepped up the pressure on North Korea, and he has been pressuring China, to take the side of the rest of the world, and help with the North Korea situation – and through China is how the North Korea threat will likely get resolved.
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